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The impact of Confucianism on Korean principal's leadership style and job satisfaction

Jong Ho Son, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of Korean culture on educational administration in South Korea. A main objective was to investigate the impact of Confucian values on Korean principals' leadership. A related objective was to examine the relationship between Korean principals' leadership styles and their job satisfaction. A literature review traced the history of educational administration in South Korea, leadership styles, cross cultural leadership studies, and Confucian culture. ^ A purposeful sample of Korean secondary school principals (n = 292) was taken. The study tested the interaction between Confucianism and Korean principal's leadership styles and Herzberg's motivator-hygiene theory by factor analysis, correlation, and regression. ^ The study found the following: (1) Confucianism has a strong impact on the secondary school Korean principals; (2) Korean principals reported adherence to both authoritative and democratic leadership styles; (3) Korean principals reported a relationship between Confucian values and Herzberg's motivators. No relationship was reported between Confucian values and Herzberg's hygiene factors; (4) Data from the sample revealed that Korean administrators come to their position late in their careers, are predominantly male, and usually fifty years or older; (5) No relationships were found between school characteristics and demographic characteristics and leadership or motivation variables. ^ The study concludes by suggesting that any attempt to change or westernize the cultural context of educational administration in Korea must accommodate the strong adherence to Confucian values. Second, since there was no discrimination by the respondents between authoritative and democratic leadership styles, the concepts imbedded in these traditional measures of leadership may be too grounded in western conceptions of leadership to serve well in the Korean context. Third, principals reported being motivated more by Herzberg's motivators than by hygienes, a factor that must be considered in any educational reform effort in Korea. ^

Subject Area

Religion, General|Anthropology, Cultural|Education, Administration|Psychology, Industrial

Recommended Citation

Son, Jong Ho, "The impact of Confucianism on Korean principal's leadership style and job satisfaction" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9962067.